Archive for the ‘mixed media’ Category

rocker redo

Here is the story of a very lovely bentwood rocker belonging to our friend Adam.  Adam let us borrow this rocker when Juniper was first born.  If you ever rocked in a bentwood rocker, you know the magic: the deep, smooth rock.  The comfortable high back, perfect for resting a weary head.  And the low armrests, so ideal for nursing a long baby.  We loved rocking Juniper in this rocker.  But Adam got the rocker used, the caning was old and brittle, and one day when Ryan sat down to rock baby Juniper, the caning gave out.  Don’t worry; no one was hurt except the chair.  A large hole in the seat rendered our favorite rocker unusable.  How very sad indeed.

So it’s been on my to-do list to fix the hole in Adam’s bentwood rocker.  Unfortunately, I don’t know how to cane.  Nor do I really want to learn at this time.  I should mention that somewhere along the line, Adam gave us the rocker to keep forever.  Thank you, Adam!  But back to my conundrum: how to fix the chair without recreating the original caning.  I thought maybe I’d turn the seat into something solid, cushioned and covered, if I found the right fabric.  When I saw Waverly’s upholstery fabric “Solar Flair” on super-sale at Jo-Ann’s, I knew it was the one and could then visualize our redeemed rocker.  So another redo project began.

And here’s how we did it.  First Dad and I took the seat off the rocker.  I ripped out all the caning and touched up the wood on the rocker and the seat frame with a dark brown permanent marker.  Once this was totally dry, I treated the wood and remaining caning with lemon oil, cleaning, hydrating and polishing all at once.

bentwood rocker minus a functional seat

Dad cut a piece of wood to fit, routered the edges, and cut additional corner pieces for sturdy assembly.  I bought half a yard of 1 1/2″ foam from Jo-Ann’s (with a 50% off coupon, of course) and cut it the same size as the new seat.

all the pieces before assembly

I sat at Grandma’s sewing machine (mine is lost somewhere in the chaos we call storage) and created the piping out of the new fabric and about a yard of soft, skinny rope.

Waverly's "Solar Flair" and piping

Together Dad and I stretched the fabric over the foam and seat and stapled, stapled, stapled.  We put the piping around the edge and attached it with more staples.  Then, using his drill, we secured the upholstered part to the original seat frame, put the whole mess back on the rocker, and – presto – a brand new rocking chair.

underside of rocker seat

corner detail

newly upholstered seat

another view

and it's on the rocker!

end of story: we rock once again.


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cork board of wine corks

A funky and functional cork board made from a unique variety of custom cut and meticulously arranged wine corks, framed in a 16 inch square wood frame with black matte finish. This cork board is ideal for kitchens, planning centers, home offices and craft rooms. Includes hardware for attaching to wall.  Cost: $92 + $2 shipping.

If you’re interested, please visit my Etsy Store to make the purchase.  This cork board of wine corks is similar to my own kitchen cork board, which you can read about here.

wood frame, black matte finish

detail of wine corks

Quirky thumb tacks are not included, but I encourage you to find some!  Here are ideas: buttons, fabric pins, or tree branches.

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Yesterday was a fantastic, wool-filled day.  A friend (Shana)’s mother-in-law (Mary) is in town for a visit and with her she brought everything needed to dye and spin wool.  Such lovely wool.  This kindred spirit graciously taught a few of us young ladies some new [to us] amazing skills.  Now I need to dye and spin for the rest of my life.

"all the blues and the greens have been recently cleaned and are seemingly new (hey Jess, me and you)." -j.baez

The roving I used to spin this yarn began pure white.  Mary showed us how to dye using everyday kitchen gadgets, including the microwave, stove and crock-pot.  I alternated the colors, green and sky blue, not really knowing what to expect.  Once the dye was set and the roving dry, Mary taught me to use her beautiful Louet spinning wheel to spin first one half of the roving, then the other, then ply them together.  The result: deep peace that spinning brings and just enough whimsical yarn to knit a pointy elf cap for a very small person.

bittersweet with a twist of cream

I spun the above chestnut yarn when it was in its natural cream color.  It’s actually one ply of wool and one of string (a method that has a name I can’t recall).  Obviously the string did not take the dye in quite the same fashion as the wool.  The dying took place once the yarn had been spun, and after twenty minutes or so in the crock-pot, we found very twisty results.  How interesting to experiment with color and texture for the first time.  I’m not so sure what to create with this yarn; it’s kind of fun just to look at.

the one where dusk turns plum purple and the bunnies scurry off to their holes to fall asleep.

This yarn was actually given to us by Mary, the wool of which is a blend of her and a friend’s sheep (if I remember correctly).  Shana mixed the turquoise and plum dyes for me while everyone tested different color combinations (some great Harry Potter yarn was created, along with some lovely variegated golds).  I’m torn between knitting a pair of cozy wool socks or something less practical and more fanciful like a ruffled diaper cover.  Suggestions?

So, thank you to Shana and Mary.  I am so grateful for this new understanding of deep, rich dyes and the interplay of color and tones.  I loved learning these new and old techniques.  To the spinning wheel: I will not soon forget your transfixing charm and draw.  And yes, I know that kind of sounds like Sleeping Beauty.  Remember her?

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farm journal for ryan

farm journal with tess of the d ubervilles

Ryan, my husband, needed a journal in which to record his learnings from the farm he works at in Kezzletown; his other journal was falling to pieces.  As you may know, we make most of our random purchases at Gift and Thrift, the local Mennonite thrift store (where I found a Black and Decker heavy-duty dust buster last week for $9.00; first dust buster of my life!  Take that, glass shards from months ago).  From Gift and Thrift, Ryan purchased an empty red journal featuring a lovely margarita and brought it to me to be transformed into something a little more Beuthin.   I was happy to oblige.

A few days later (it was a lazy, sunny Sunday afternoon this fall) my friend Krista came by for what we like to call a decoupage party.  Wikipedia describes decoupage as the art of decorating an object by gluing colored paper cutouts onto it in combination with special paint effects.  For us, a decoupage party consists of going through old Smithsonians, National Geographics, interior design magazines, and anything and everything that may have interesting and usable photos/graphics.  My personal favorite is British Home and Garden.

On this sunny Sunday, Krista and I cut.  We layered.  We glued with glue sticks.  We made words out of various letters like in old-time ransom notes.  We didn’t use paint, however.  Also, we didn’t open a jar of Mod Podge at all.  Instead, because we were revamping journals and binders and things school-ish that would get some heavy use, we sealed everything off with strips of packaging tape (oh, heavenly packaging tape; so many wonderful uses!).  Very professional, I know.  But the effect was good, if slightly shinny, and the farm journal is now being used often.

Farm journal for Ryan: project six of seven in the series of ole projects I wanted to share with you, dear reader(s).

front cover

inside front cover

inside back cover

back cover

To leave you with a bit of unrelated whimsy I heard yesterday that made me smile: Gerald said, “I have friends who describe their decor as Early American Alley (as in, searching allies early morning on trash day for the particularly interesting and free finds to outfit a home).”  This made me think of my sister-in-law Christine, queen of all the alley shoppers I know.  Read more about her and her shopping habits here.

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our footstool, frederick, in his new skin

Looking around the house, I don’t see a piece of furniture that has been with me longer than our Frederick (this isn’t including all the favorite hand-me-down items that I more or less took from mom and dad upon leaving the nest).  Frederick found me in college.  I and my sweet sophomore year roommate Alexis named him Frederick, as every helpful footstool must have a name (maybe we were thinking of the canine footstool from Beauty and the Beast? Maybe?).

Okay, so Frederick was in dire need of new clothes.  He had been reupholstered four or five years back in a fabric (yellow with circles) that wasn’t in harmony with our home.  Scene change: a bag of silk ties (some freakishly retro) purchased for approximately 25 cents each at a thrift store near Ryan’s grandmother’s house in Detroit, Michigan.  This bag was literally staring at me from the bottom of a closet.  Silk ties?  Sad footstool?  Brilliant idea?  I think yes!

some ties sewn perpendicular to the others

I gutted the ties by ripping them open and taking out the old thread and lining; this was a tad annoying and time-consuming but probably worth it.  I ironed the silk bits flat then sewed them all together along the folds that were still mostly visible.  This created one colorful sheet of pieced fabric; I ironed all the seams in one direction so it would all lay nice and flat.  With this, and with the help of Ryan’s screwdriver, staple gun, hammer and my straight pins, I reupholstered Frederick and felt quite empowered doing so.

please, take a seat. put your feet up. read!

He now sits, happy as can be, in front of his pal the Resto chair (near the floor lamp that my brother says is from a dentist office; it’s really not, but Stephen wants someone to clean his teeth each time he sits there).  And that, dear reader, is the story of item four of seven in my favorite projects ever series: how Frederick got his new groove.

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quirky cork board, detail

Item one in a series on old (and new) favorite projects: kitchen cork board made from wine corks.

Here is the story: in college I worked at a big name arts and crafts store and actually made a few purchases using the employee discount.  One purchase was a 16 x 19 inch goldish and old-looking frame and may be the only gold item in our home…  I really can’t think of anything else; I’m more of an oil-rubbed bronze, iron and silver girl.

Also in college I had a dear friend who worked at a local Italian restaurant that served the best ever stuffed shells and gave out free matchbooks.  Jessica collected the wine bottle corks seen above and gave them all to me at once; I think she knew I was dreaming up a good scheme for the goldish and old-looking frame.

Materials used: random corks smelling slightly of wine, one substantial frame with wood backing, one small coping saw and lastly, as much carpenter glue as needed to get the job done.  The best-kept secret tip is that all of the corks must be sawed down the middle, top to bottom, to make two “corks,” each with a rounded and a flat side.  This doubles the amount of usable cork and provides a flat surface with which one can then glue the cork to the board and expect it to stick.

This was a simple project and I’ve used it for years.  And years.  It followed me through college, to all our apartments, and even now is in our kitchen at the house.  As for the tacks, I’ve been collecting the lapel pins from souvenir shops in countries, states or cities I’ve lived in/visited.   A decor belief I hold to, however loosely: what is hung on walls in kitchens ought to be as functional as possible.  Clocks.  Chalk boards.  Calendars.  Cork Boards.  Black vintage wall-hung phones when you have them.

And yes, that is the Eagle and Child pub.  Lewis, Tolkien, Inklings, everything.

kitchen cork board, door, window

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